Pretty pots

Hi everyone. A slightly different topic on the blog today but hopefully one that resonates with you. I’m talking about how ceramics is making me feel excited to create in a totally different way!

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

When I think back to how long it took me to start sewing, well into my 20s when I’d been dreaming about it for such a long time it seems ridiculous that I waited. So recently I decided if I wanted to try another skill, I best get on with it. After going on a Hey Clay free taster session last year I finally booked onto a proper course. In a act of risk minimization I went for decorative techniques at Leeds’ Sunken Studios… thinking how bad could that be? We made three dishes using two techniques.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

The two coloured ones used a sgraffito technique and show my ropey artistic skills and the third has red glaze as an inlay in the grooves! That was trickier I must say. They were fired once to seal the under glaze, then a clear glaze goes on before a final trip to the kiln. I picked these up in late September. It was a short but informative session with a group of lovely ladies, and a kind helpful teacher in Rebecca.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

Being creatively fulfilled is something I’ve been talking a bit about at work recently. It gets so mixed up with being good at something creative when it’s really about having an outlet for your ideas and how you can turn them into reality. I am very lucky that I’ve picked up sewing so quickly; in 10 years I’ve made many difficult garments and used tricky fabric and mastered a lot of techniques but there’s still lots to learn and challenge myself with.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

But I missed being a beginner. That fear of trying something new, the risk of being rubbish but not really caring and also being proud of yourself for having a go! There’s a thrill at the beginning of a new project where you don’t exactly know how things will end up and you don’t know if you’re ready for the task.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

It’s so easy to talk yourself out of doing something and either you start to believe you never could do it or you live with regret that you didnt have a go. There are plenty of other things on my dream list that I hope I do one day but I’m happy in the knowledge that I am being creatively challenged.

Almond rock ceramics pottery clay sunken studio leeds glaze sgraffito inlay

I’ve now booked myself a throwing workshop at Sunken Studio so I can have a proper go on a potter’s wheel and live out my Demi Moore fantasies!

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Spotty McCall’s 7085

Hello my loveliest ones!! I am hating humanity after a hellish time on public transport and the motorway but you’re all exempt. You wouldn’t leave giant cases in the aisles and blare music without speakers would you?? I hope not. And you wouldn’t try and drive me off the road in your a supermarket delivery van right???

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I’ve been doing a little less sewing than normal lately but wanted to experiment with the latest pattern from Love Sewing magazine. This pattern is included with issue 73 on sale October 3rd. That’s tomorrow! As you know I don’t often have time to make the magazine patterns but I just loved this neckline!

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

Isn’t Lis’s version below so gorgeous? I knew I couldnt pull off the shift style so I wanted to see if I could hack the dress to a more retro silhouette. To do this I used the waistline mark on the front and back bodice pieces. I marked lines across the pattern pieces 1.5cm below the waistline point. This was the cutting line.

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I then worked out the finished waist measurement and measurements for the front and back and adjusted slightly so my skirt pattern would match at the side seams. The skirt here is actually my wedding dress skirt pattern! It makes it very swishy.

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I made view D of the pattern with its lovely sweetheart neckline and no sleeves. This stretch spot cotton sateen is amazing quality and gives the dress a lot of structure. It took 3m to get all the pieces of this dress on the fabric even at 60″ wide. It’s a pretty huge skirt!!

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I finished the hem with red bias tape; my preferred method for a circle skirt. There’s an invisible zipper in the back. And of course I added pockets. SO MUCH FUN!!

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

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Hawaiian cats embroidery

There’s a title I would never have expected to type when I first started stitching! Today I’m sharing my favourite embroidery piece of all time!!

Almond rock embroidery cat lady floss boss dmc threads kittens

What do you get when you mix an obsession with furry felines and an insatiable urge to stitch… The Cat Lady Embroidery book!! 380 ways to stitch a cat.

Almond rock embroidery cat lady floss boss dmc threads kittens

I fell in love with this book when it crossed my desk at work. It’s a joyous creation filled with different breeds, silly characters, alphabets and borders. From the realistic to the surreal, there is something for everyone.

Almond rock embroidery cat lady floss boss dmc threads kittens

I started with the hilarious Hawaiian trio! Featuring one cheeky ukulele player and two swishy hula ladies its delightful to look at and I’ve hung it in the hall to make us smile every day.

Almond rock embroidery cat lady floss boss dmc threads kittens

Made almost exclusively of satin stitch my favourite details are the little strings on the ukulele, winky eyes and grass skirt details. There’s a few french knots thrown in and a little bit of long and short stitch. I’m especially proud of the quality of my stitches on the little grey cat.

Almond rock embroidery cat lady floss boss dmc threads kittens

Since finishing this design I’ve also made the baker and the sailor characters!! (That seagull was mega cute to stitch.) More on them later.

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Strawberry stripes M7322

Theres something magical about pink and red together. It shouldn’t work but it totally does. And there’s something magical about this jersey. It’s another fabric that we got for a work project (out next week) and I ended up buying my own, obsessed with it!! Its such good quality, it had to be done. I wore the top to the office on a particularly bloated and tired day and someone told me I looked great. That made me like the magical top even more. Funny how easy swayed I am!

almond rock stripe matching ponte jersey stretch knit tshirt top mccalls 7322 sewing pattern

The jersey is thick enough to sit smoothly on the body but light enough to still feel like a t-shirt, it’s also holding colour perfectly after a few washes and showing no signs of wear. It’s from Bloomsbury Square linked here and is nearly sold out. There’s a similar fabric here at Cornish Haberdashery and also here at Bobbins and Buttons! I’m pretty chuffed with my stripe matching and overlocking/top-stitching. As you can see below I always try and land my twin needle stitches just on the edge of the folded under seam allowance so it looks like a cover-stitched finish… until the day I can afford one. I also added to heat transfer patches to the chest I got from China because the colours match perfectly!

almond rock stripe matching ponte jersey stretch knit tshirt top mccalls 7322 sewing pattern

Back to the top! This is my fourth version of M7322 but first blogged. Sorry about that. But all four are striped and all matched at the side seams, sleeve seams and magically on some of the armhole. You can achieve armhole matching too if you use this pattern and an evenly stripe fabric. The armhole and sleeve are the perfect gradient/curve to ease the stripes together. Intrigued? Read on

almond rock stripe matching ponte jersey stretch knit tshirt top mccalls 7322 sewing pattern

On many patterns the sleeve head is aggressively shaped, curving at an incline that doesn’t match the gentle curve of the armhole. Does that make sense? But not this one.

First…. Use a stripe layout, matching the underarm points of the front and back bodice and sleeves with the same part of the stripe. Sew your bodices together and your sleeve seams, matching your stripes. You’ll ned to pin every stripe together if you want a flawless match. Now everything should start to come together ready to make the sleeves…

almond rock stripe matching ponte jersey stretch knit tshirt top mccalls 7322 sewing pattern

Turn both your sleeves and bodice WS out and mark the seam allowance at the armhole in air-erasable or water-soluble marker. You should be able to match the first few visible stripes on the front bodice above the sleeve seam as you see above.

In all your stripe matching here is a quick note, you’re not aligning the stripes RST, just matching points at the seam line if that makes sense. The stripes won’t always match in the seam allowance area. The goal is to cross perfectly at the seam line. Pin both horizontally and vertically then quickly tack stitch this area of the armhole by hand if you want guaranteed success.

almond rock stripe matching ponte jersey stretch knit tshirt top mccalls 7322 sewing pattern saltaire

Here’s a peek of the top out on a day trip to Salt’s Mill in Saltaire. This amazing historic town was custom built by the mill owner so his workers had somewhere to live. The area is now grade listed and the mill is the home to a David Hockney gallery and amazing cafe plus lots more. As well as the mill we like walking by the canal, stopping at the barge that sells ice cream and visiting the park! It’s a great day out. Ahhh how much I already miss summer!! Watch this space for a cheeky kitten top…

almond rock stripe matching ponte jersey stretch knit tshirt top mccalls 7322 sewing pattern

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The maxium cake dress

Please don’t think of me as terrible birthday brat but I wanted to share details of day 3 from my long weekend of celebrations. I still have one more day to go before I head back to reality and another press day on Tuesday.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

My family weren’t free to catch up until the Saturday after my birthday so we made plans to have afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall near Adel. This 17th century manor house is popular for weddings and parties and there was a wedding going on as we arrived! We sat in the indoor terrace. All the beauty of a garden area but safe from the elements!

We dined on gorgeous sandwiches (I had the veggie selection of aubergine and hummus, avocado and salsa, and cream cheese and cucumber plus a huge onion bhaji). Then there was a dessert tray of scones, treacle tart, brownies, lemon posset, candyfloss and choc ganache lollipops!! Fizz, wine and Earl Grey tea finished the table off nicely and we chatted away the afternoon.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Sometimes you need a baggy dress. When you have this much food to eat its practically mandatory!! I haven’t been fitting into my clothes very well lately so a baggy dress fits well into my life right now. I’ve been inspired by DIY Daisy’s floaty dresses which are quite straight up and down while still feeling figure flattering.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I drafted a basic bodice with grown on sleeves and removed the darts from the front and back. Then I adjusted the front to a wrap extending into the waistline (rather than the side seam) using a v neckline as a guide. It sits high on the shoulder then drops in a steep v, crossing just under the bust. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

The excess fabric was used to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline. It was an awkward assembly in that I had to bind the front up to the shoulder and leave the ends unsewn first. That meant I could construct the bodice and join to the waist then install the zip. Then finally I could bind the top of the zipper and remaining bit of neckline. Of course I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the binding. I got impatient before adding a hook and eye at the top… a job for later.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I decided to topstitch the wrap in place as I can’t be arsed worrying about flashing people. I don’t have a lot of boob to flash but no need to take the risk. The waistline is slightly raised to help the body feel and the rayon means the dress is delightful floaty!! My favourite part of the dress is this stunning print.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Susan Driscoll designs the most gorgeous prints and I was overjoyed when she released her rayon collection ‘Soiree‘ with Dashwood Studio. I actually bought three of the designs! This print is called Fragment and it reminds me of geology and gemstones. It’s all my favourite colours in one design. It looks a little navy in my pics but is on a black base. I got this dress out of 1.5m of 45″-wide fabric by the skin of my teeth!

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Do you think you can identify rayon? It’s known in the UK as viscose and is a natural fabric made of plant pulp. BUT sometimes shops just call drapey polyester ‘viscose’ which blurs the lines and sometimes it’s mixed with polyester… the same way any other fabric base can be mixed with polyester of course.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

You can get rayon challis, rayon linen, and rayon jersey plus much more. 100% rayon challis is prone to shrinking, goes hard and rumpled when washed then goes back to being silky and smooth when dry. It doesn’t melt under heat or make static when you wear it. Its breathable and luxurious to wear and it’s my favourite fabric type! You need a sharp needle and sharp pins as its prone to snagging and you need a large space to work on so the fabric doesn’t slide as you work or cut out.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I hope you enjoyed this post and the details of my self drafted dress. I’m building up courage to cut into the Secret Garden print above and figure out what style to sew. If you are keen to try pattern drafting I recommend the Aldrich book series. I also attended a great evening course at Leeds Art School which taught me other methods of drafting if you don’t get on with Winnie Aldrich.

Finally thanks do much to everyone who commented on my tile dress on the blog and on Instagram. I definitely appreciate it!! Cheers to you all!

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